Report: Gantz Failed to Convince Abbas to End Action Against Israel at ICC

ICC, Mavi Marmara
The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz defended on Wednesday his decision to host Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in his home in Rosh Ha’Ayin a day earlier, saying that “only someone who is responsible for sending soldiers into battle appreciates the degree to which we have to avoid battle.” Gantz added, “This is how I have always operated.”

According to Yisrael Hayom sources that were privy to what unfolded in the meeting, Gantz pressured Abbas to end the proceedings launched by the PA against Israel in the International Criminal Court, but Abbas did not provide a definite answer. According to a separate report in the Palestinian media on Wednesday, Abbas said he would agree to abort the legal campaign if Israel made various concessions, but according to Yisrael Hayom, this report was not true.

Gantz came under criticism by many in Israel for arranging the meeting, with the Likud saying that this “made the Palestinians once again center stage.” Even within his own coalition, Gantz came under attack, with one minister saying that “Israel’s interest is to stay out of internal Palestinian matters,” and another government official saying that “no one updated the Cabinet ahead of time.”

This was the first time Abbas met with a top Israeli official in Israel since 2010, Kan News said.

Gantz and Abbas held their first official meeting in August, in Ramallah – the seat of Abbas’s government – in what was the highest-level public meeting between Palestinian and Israeli officials since Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government was formed in June.

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian was present at Tuesday’s meeting, as were the PA’s Civil Affairs Minister Hussein Al-Sheik and Ramallah’s General Intelligence Services Commander Majed Faraj.

Meanwhile, the United States welcomed news of the meeting.

State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that the U.S. was “very pleased” to hear of the diplomatic encounter.

“The U.S. is very pleased Defense Minister Benny Gantz hosted PA President Abbas at his home in Israel. We hope confidence-building measures discussed will accelerate momentum to further advance freedom, security and prosperity for Palestinians and Israelis alike in 2022,” Price posted on Wednesday.

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